La Croix International [France]
July 1, 2021
We are at a point in history where all the indications point to a perfect storm: sexual abuse crisis, loss of credibility…, says Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, Australia’s first Asian-born bishop
Few Catholics have any appetite left for cosmetic changes, mediocrity or restorationism dressed up as renewal, warns an outspoken Australian Catholic bishop.
“We have struggled under the weight of the old ecclesial paradigm of clerical order, control and hegemony with a penchant for triumphalism, self-referential pomp and smugness.
“We yearn for a Church that commits to a God-oriented future of equal discipleship, relational harmony, wholeness and sustainability,” said Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta during the Dom Helder Camara Lecture at the Jesuit-run Newman College that is affiliated with the University of Melbourne.
His lecture entitled “My hope for the Plenary Council” comes a few months ahead of the first session of the Plenary Council 2020 (PC2020), a national gathering to discuss the future of the Catholic Church in Australia.
“We are at a point in history where all the indications point to a perfect storm: sexual abuse crisis, near-total collapse of active participation, loss of credibility, shrinking pool of clerical leadership et cetera,” said Bishop Long.
Hence, “few Catholics have any appetite left for cosmetic changes, mediocrity or worst, restorationism dressed up as renewal,” said the 59-year-old bishop who has been out in front on key issues, including Church reform.
“The model of the Church based on clerical hegemony has run its course. Insofar as it is deeply embedded in patriarchal and monarchical structures, it is incapable of helping us to meet the needs of the world and culture in which we live,” he said.
“It humbles us to know that God is with us in the mess and even in the perceived irrelevancy of the Church,” said Australia’s first Asian-born bishop and the first Vietnamese-born bishop to head a diocese outside Vietnam.
“What the Church needs is not simply a renewal or an updating of methods of evangelising. Rather, what we desperately need is an inner conversion, a radical revolution in our mindsets and patterns of action,” he said.
Long was appointed bishop of Parramatta diocese in western Sydney in 2016 after having served as auxiliary of Melbourne since 2011. Before that he was the Rome-based assistant general of Conventual Franciscans (2008-2011).